iny “turtle island” Koh Tao is a top destination for scuba divers though even non divers are easily drawn in by the island’s beauty and its inhabitants charm.The tiny island of Koh Tao (“Turtle Island”), 45 km north of Koh Phangan, is one of the top scuba diving destinations in Thailand, if not the world. In fact, only Cairns, Australia issues more PADI certifications than Koh Tao. While some globetrotting SCUBA snobs may express disappointment, the shallow, crystal clear waters of Koh Tao feature abundant marine life and considerable coral that are certain to please both beginners and experienced divers, particularly as the island itself is so spectacular and the atmosphere on Koh Tao is so relaxing. What’s more, the island, which is the site of important breeding grounds for Hawksbill and Green turtles, is now a center for environmentally friendly diving practices, including the reintroduction of hundreds of juvenile turtles to the island’s ecosystem and efforts to preserve and grow coral reefs.Non-divers can appreciate the beauty of Koh Tao, which seems relatively devoid of inhabitants while the majority of visitors are spending their days underwater, by taking a boat trip around the island to visit Koh Tao’s many gorgeous beaches and bays, hiking to the summit of the island, studying yoga, or simply relaxing in a hammock and enjoying the view of nearby Koh Nang Yuan, a spectacular attraction in its own right.Over the past decade Koh Tao has transformed from a sleepy, yet popular place to get a scuba certification to the second most popular place in the world to do so. Once a destination almost exclusively for scuba divers and those looking to get away from it all, Koh Tao is now also a destination for wild 20-somethings to warm up before or unwind after neighboring Koh Phangan’s Full Moon Party. Fortunately, despite its quite small size, most of the beaches around Koh Tao have retained a charming, laid back atmosphere and bungalows ranging from ultra-basic thatch roof to chic and boutique are available for those on any budget to enjoy the beauty of one of Thailand’s most spectacular islands. (Credit: tourismthailand.org)
2,000 (estimated, 2010)
WHAT TO WEAR
The island of Koh Tao has a tropical climate influenced by monsoons. Dry season is from mid December to April, hot season from May to September, wet season from October to mid December. Climate tend to be warm and humid throughout the year. Average temperatures stay above 30C throughout the year. DRESS CODE: casual and beach attire, light cotton clothing, comfortable shoes, sandals: hat, sunglasses and a good sunscreen are essentials. When visiting temples it is advisable to dress modestly and wear shirts with sleeves. Some classy venues such as restaurants require a smart casual attire.
Koh Tao has a limted variety of local shops located in the hotels.
NO SMOKING, PLEASE
In Thailand smoking is forbidden in all temples, public transport, airports (they may have designated smoking areas), train and bus stations, indoor public places including office buildings, hospitals, restaurants, shops.
Tip is discretionary and up to you, of course gratuities for a good service are appreciated.